Monday, June 29, 2009

Swimming at China Beach, San Francisco

If god was a little boy ...

... he'd come here to play ...

... where the Golden Gate is alive.

What a scenic place for a swim.

Further east, chilly waters prevent bad boys from leaving the island.

Witness the glow of a sunset here to realize why it's called ...

... the Golden Gate.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Zack Arias Workshop

Zack Arias visited and gave his "One Light" photography workshop. It was interesting for me to learn how to use a flash properly. None of the pictures I took are great since I am still trying to figure out the basics and I'm also inexperienced in taking pictures of people. But with a bit of work in Picasa they're interesting enough to warrant a post.

First, there is Dan, also known as "Gritphilm". I'd say he's hands-down the craziest looking person I have seen in a while and super-fun to work with since he is into photography himself and enjoys making the pictures interesting.

There's Mark Heaps of Point 3. Zack positioned him outside in the shadow of a building and he plays guitar for us - you can't tell that his amplifier isn't plugged in.

Another "Gritphilm" picture, this time with flash.

Joey Bauer outside on the lawn between the buildings. No flash.

Randal Hisle of Town-Crier plays acoustic guitar. I climb into the framework to get a wide angle shot. The flash is positioned to the left and produces the pattern on the wall.

Natasha Littlewood of Town-Crier and Kung Fu Vampire playing her Cello outside for us, in the late afternoon sunshine. The flash was very close just outside the frame on the left side.

A day well spent.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Snowboarding White Chief Bowl, Sequoia National Park

June 13, 2009. Driving for an hour on Mineral King Road into the canyon without seeing anyone except a bobcat near the road it's starting to sink in that my destination is a little remote.

The sun sets, and soon, clouds obscure the canyon walls.

After a brief nap I hit the White Chief Peak trail with my snowboard strapped to my backpack. A steady climb into the canyon and the trail is easy to find until it ends at a creek bed which is flooded from the melting snow. I miss the crossing and stray along the right side until the terrain steepens and my hike turns into a rock scramble. I decide that the trail must be on the other side of the creek. Balancing over a fallen tree I get there and find it. Vandever Mountain and White Chief Peak hide above the void.

The trail leads back to the creek. There's a waterfall to my right and a rocky creek bed filled with a snowdrift. By inspecting it with my poles and listening to the water I judge it is solid enough to carry me, and switch to skins.

A fun way to travel, but where does it go?

The base of Vandever Mountain. The slopes look nice, but where and how do these start? Not knowing what's above I stick to the lower angle for now, heading slightly right for the bowl.

Somewhere around here I get the feeling that this trip was a dumb idea. The snow looks firm and bumpy and the weather doesn't look kind either. Should I head into this void? What for? I haven't seen a living soul thus far - this isn't a good place to get lost. Still, I decide to press on for a little bit, sometimes carrying my board over the rocks as the snow isn't continuous, but overall my spirits are down.

Then, magic happens. As I gaze into the grayish white in front of me, a scenery starts flickering and shining. I rub my eyes.

Someone is pulling the clouds away and putting a big sign into the sky above Vandever Mountain.

My doubts are gone.

White Chief Peak unveils itself to my right.

White Chief Bowl bathes in sunshine. My goal is the ridge in the center of the picture. According to my map it's a thin ridge that gives a view of the valley beyond and is a great starting point for my descent.

Almost at the top, now looking back. White Chief Peak to the left, Vandever Mountain to the right.

After a little scramble I'm on the ridge. The lake to the left might be Ansel Lake.

As I rest there a bit and enjoy the scenery, the clouds creep back up and soon, visibility and temperature drop. But I'm here to ride, so no worries - a little chill is fine with me. I put on my jacket, assemble my snowboard, and sail into the bowl. The sunshine has softened up the snow so it's a fun ride. A couple of times I climb up towards Vandever Mountain to get the most out of the spotty snowfields in the lower part of the bowl, and make it back to the creek covered by the firm snow drift. In a celebratory mood I ride the creek while holding the camera in my hand.


As encountered on the way up, the waterfall right next to the creek bed.

Entrance to an old mine.

Ancient tree against the sky.


Kudos to the sun for shining into the bowl when I most needed it. Overall, a fun trip to end the season.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Snowboarding Mt. Dana, Yosemite National Park

Pictures from a trip to Mt. Dana with Jürgen on June 6, 2009. The sun sets as I'm driving towards Tioga Pass.

We park outside the park boundary and sleep in the car. The night is short, and the morning beautiful.

We hike up the road towards the park entrance, and then cross the Dana Meadows towards Mt. Dana. We don't see the trail initially but the mountain would be hard to miss. Beautiful little lakes in this area.

We find the trail on the western slope of the mountain and hike up the switchbacks. Looking west, Mammoth Peak to the left.

Arriving at the first snow field we switch to snow travel. Powder in June!

Jürgen skinning up the slope.

The snowfields allow us to travel efficiently until we hit the boulder field near the summit, a bit after the entrance to the Solistice Couloir.

We leave our gear behind and walk to the summit. The views are nice, even with the clouds rolling in.

The Dana Couloir looks like a sweet ride and will be on my list for next season.

This time we skip it because the coverage in the valley below the couloir is less complete than on Dana's western slopes.

We hike down over the rocks and pick up our gear.

Even if it's a mellow slope, no regrets for bringing the powderstick.

We draw some lines into the slope ...

... and ride the snow field until it becomes dirt.

I realize that even the greatest winter season must end eventually.

On the way home we stop for the flooded forest near Tenaya Lake.

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Laundry Blues

Inspired by Eric Lewis' visit and awesome performance at the Google campus, and Adam's recently revamped music page I thought I'd add a bit of music to the web as well. My post is surely pedestrian compared to these folks - please don't expect too much, I've never taken a piano lesson (guitar + violin as a kid). But I enjoy "playing" with the piano occasionally, especially when doing laundry. Here it goes, rowdy, raw and uncut, second take, roughly "I got rhythm" and then some - cheers.